These two $150,000 PHEVs have more common than you thought

The Polestar 1 and BMW i8 don’t necessarily occupy segments by themselves, but the truth is there aren’t that many performance-spec, two-door plug-in hybrids that command prices amounting to $150,000. So in the absence of comparing the Polestar 1 and BMW i8 with their respective rivals, the folks at Throttle House decided to skip that exercise entirely and compare both two-door plug-in hybrids against each other.

One is a $148,500 German two-door PHEV with futuristic looks while the other is a $155,000 Swedish two-door PHEV that boasts one of the most beautiful designs of any car in the market. How do they stack up against each other? Let’s find out.

How different is the Polestar 1 from the BMW i8?

To be clear, the Polestar 1 and BMW i8 aren’t direct rivals. One is a sporty PHEV that BMW launched in 2014 as a flex of its plug-in hybrid know-how at that time while the other is a two-door hybrid sports car that Polestar launched in 2019 to mark its official arrival in the auto world as a standalone performance brand. The two sporty PHEVs come from two different eras, and yet, despite their differences — and there are plenty — the BMW i8 and the Polestar 1 have more in common than most people realize.

Somehow, It Seems That the BMW i8 Is Better Than the Polestar 1
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First, the differences. It’s safe to say that the i8 and the Polestar 1 couldn’t look more different if you put them next to each other. BMW designed the i8 as a low-slung, futuristic-looking sports car, complete with a carbon-fiber tub, cutting-edge technologies like laser headlamps, and scissor doors. It’s a sports car through and through.

The Polestar 1, however, is also billed as a two-door sports car, except it doesn’t look like one, at least not in the traditional sense.

That’s not a bad thing, though. From front to end, the Polestar 1 is one of the most beautiful-looking cars in the market. The “Thor’s hammer” headlights border on incomparable and the entire carbon fiber body successfully blends the aesthetics of a sporty front end with a muscular rear section. And yet, when you see them together, they look about the same as an apple looks sitting next to a banana.

Is The Polestar 1 Better Than the BMW i8?

Somehow, It Seems That the BMW i8 Is Better Than the Polestar 1
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Both the BMW i8 and the Polestar 1 are classified as plug-in hybrid vehicles. That means they carry a traditional engine and some form of an electric motor to complement the said engine. That’s where the similarities end, though.

The i8 is powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to produce a total of 362 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque.

It’s not as powerful a car at the price that it commands, but it does compensate for that in other ways. The Polestar 1, on the other hand, uses an elaborate setup that includes a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors that combine to produce a staggering 600 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque. It’s almost twice as powerful as the i8 and packs more than double the torque of its German counterpart.

Somehow, It Seems That the BMW i8 Is Better Than the Polestar 1
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Here’s the tricky bit. Despite the staggering advantage in output, the Polestar 1’s performance time is similar to i8’s.

Both models can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in the 4.2- to 4.4-second range.

That’s remarkable for the i8 considering the discrepancy in power between the two models, but it’s really not something the German sports PHEV did, but more to do with what its Swedish rival is carrying. See, the Polestar 1 is heavy, and by heavy, we mean it’s 5,170 pounds heavy.

By comparison, the i8 only weighs 3,394 pounds, making it lighter by a whopping 1,700 pounds.
Somehow, It Seems That the BMW i8 Is Better Than the Polestar 1
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That’s the i8’s trump card over the Polestar 1, and — no pun intended — it is a heavy one. See, as beautiful as the Polestar 1 is and as powerful as it is, its weight limits what it can really do from a performance perspective. It’s still fast for a car of its size and it handles better than you’d expect from a two-door carrying that much weight, but the i8, even with its age, offers more of the sports car PHEV experience than the Polestar 1. It’s not going to surprise you with how quick it is the way the Polestar 1 does, but overall, the objective of these two-door PHEVs is to offer sportiness and performance without destroying the world’s polar bear population. The Polestar 1 does that remarkably well, but the i8 does it a little better.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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